May, 2012

May 12

Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods – Dazedly Grazing and Grousing

And here’s my new article The Raw Story/Culture Clutch:

May 12


This morning walking my dogs in the park I was pondering my upcoming script for Episode 4 (of 5 total, in the graphic novel) of THE CROW: DEATH IS MY DOJO, my tale of The Crow set in Japan, and I was picturing The Crow using his Samurai sword on adversaries in a colorful manner, and after thinking about this for a couple of minutes I looked down at the path and saw three plastic toy Samurai swords lying there. They were actually cocktail sword sort of things, meant no doubt for olives, but they were made in the shape of Samurai swords. Sometimes synchronicity is quite eerie.

About THE CROW: DEATH IS MY DOJO, which I’m writing for IDW comics, and….

May 12

Are people simply what they are? No. Yes.

We all tend to get into a “why can’t they be more…” about people around us, people close to us, people we work with, and so on. People can change, if they work at it, but in many respects it seems foolish to expect a teapot to become a coffee percolator, an apple to be more like an orange, a kite to be an airplane.

We’re all innately designed; some by nature, some by nurture. The nurture stuff is subject to change over a long period of self awareness, and effort. The other can only be moderated.

Perhaps it’s like architectural design; one can rework a house to some extent, and repair it, but on the whole its architecture defines its outlook on the world, and the way it looks to the world, for good…

May 12

“Everything is Broken” – review

By John Shirley
A review by Randy Dethrow

Jim Goad, one of my favorite writers once wrote, “I’m bothered by dumb ideas . . . like the belief that the term “happy ending” isn’t oxymoronic. Or the silly ideological construct called “justice,” a thing which has never been achieved anywhere on the globe at any point in time. Or the primitive faith in nonexistent phantasms such as good and evil. Or the falsehood known as society, which proposes that people won’t actually trample over one another to get off a sinking boat.”

But as much as I admire Jim Goad’s brutal writing style, John Shirley has written a book that proves everything in that quote completely and utterly false. There IS good and evil. And people WILL help one another if they are in a life-threatening situation. And, yes, even though our planet is crawling with bad ideas and slithering corruption, there IS justice in this world. And many people actually die smiling, without fear, having lived a full and satisfying life, and their ending is indeed a happy ending.

“Everything is Broken” is about a town called Freedom, which was once called Ferry Landing but was changed by the batshit crazy Mayor who is a Tea Party Libertarian whose ideas about privatization have pretty much left the town without a fire department or police force. Basically, the guy wants nothing to do with the federal government. To say that he has a screw loose (which becomes overwhelmingly looser as the novel unfolds) is like saying that the sinking of the Titanic was a “boating accident.”

The two main characters, Russ and Dickie Rockwell represent the good and evil in the novel, which is about a small town that is devastated by a tsunami, a town cut off from all Government aid, and is left to the mercy of its inhabitants. Russ, along with some other characters named Brand, Dale, Jill, Pendra, and Russ’ dad are the heroes of the book, helping the townspeople in any way they can – in one instance forcing the lone doctor in town to help when he is caught trying to get the hell out of Freedom.

Dickie Rockwell is a character straight out of an Andrew Vachss novel: a predator created by years of systematic abuse. In one scene, also straight out of a Vachss novel, Dickie gets revenge on one of the people who turned him into the monster he is, and you almost feel sympathy for him, except that he is a killer. He is also a meth dealer, and if you read enough John Shirley novels or short stories you get the understanding that Shirley has a serious hard-on for meth dealers. I myself have lost more friends to alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine than meth, but Shirley has his reasons. Dickie and the mayor Lon Ferrara team up to attempt to create some kind of libertarian utopia out of the mess left behind by the disaster, but Lon’s ideas and Dickie’s ideas are very, very different.

At this point I am going to stop with the synopsis because I don’t want to be that “spoiler” guy. It’s enough to say that this is a novel of good versus evil, and is realistic to a fault. I’ve read five of Shirley’s books and four of them are very much horror/fantasy/sci-fi books. This one, without a doubt, could actually take place and having survived Hurricane Katrina I know for a fact that during disasters such as Katrina the kinds of things that are depicted in “Everything is Broken” do in fact take place. An interesting parallel is that during Hurricane Katrina, we were suffering under the administration of the most corrupt and ineffective President of all time, and the guy who ran FEMA was completely clueless. And when the government actually DID send troops in to help, some of them, instead of helping anyone, just decided that it would be easier to shoot them instead.

What John Shirley has written is prophetic, shocking, sometimes sad, but overall is a novel about hope and the enduring human spirit. Yes, it is about a clash between good versus evil and yes, bad things happen to good people. It wouldn’t be a realistic book if they didn’t. But in the end, the tsunami proves Jim Goad wrong. Not all people will trample over one another to get off of a sinking ship. Some people will rise up and selflessly help others onto the lifeboats, while some others will try to steal everything not nailed down on the sinking ship before they indeed push people over the side to save themselves. And this is the best analogy I can give to the story told in “Everything is Broken.”

In short, I loved this book, and am very glad I bought it and that John Shirley got some of my money because it was worth every fucking penny. Do yourself a favor, go to RIGHT NOW and order “Everything is Broken.” Because ultimately, what John Shirley does with this novel is explain how decent people with selfless hearts can make sure that everything that is broken can still sometimes be fixed.

May 12

New Piece by John “yours truly” Shirley at THE RAW STORY

HAVE PBS and NPR become annoying beggars? Read all about it here:

May 12

Step Up To Ridiculously Overpriced Cinnamon! Spice Up Your LIfe With a Chunk of Plastic!

A neighbor is donating an “aerobic step” to charity, in its box, declaring its purpose. It’s a step, made out of plastic, you step on, during exercise. You pay for this step. Just…a step. Probably at least 20 bucks. Because you can’t find something to step up on,during your exercise.

I’m going to sell “Aerobic Rocks” – just a rock, with a picture of a guy lifting it up. . .

Also in Walgreen’s I saw CINNAMON capsules. $25 for a bottle of them. What’s in the capsules? Cinnamon. You know, the stuff you buy at Safeway next door for a tiny fraction of the price.

May 12

Illuminati? New World Orders? Old World Conspiracy? Or just Ignorance of history?

People who claim they’re into a conspiracy theory involving illuminati, masonry, wicked secret societies, and, often…Jews…speak of History. “They’ve been at it all through history. For example…” But if you get them aside and ask them where they got their information, it was always from a charlatan–and if you ask them about the historical facts of any country they’re declaiming darkly about, it turns out they don’t know them. They know nothing of *actual* history. And in fact, if one studies history, shorn of conspiracy theory or illuminati fantasies, it makes sense; the ordinary collegial study of history makes perfect sense, in terms of human nature, and with respect to cause and effect. There are dark deeds and some conspirators, but it needs no illuminati or secret societies to be internally logical.

My main point really is that if you were to test MOST conspiracy theorists on basic historical facts, what the Austria-Hungarian empire was, say, facts and dates concerning Rome, how emperors were selected (in which era) of Rome…they don’t have a clue. They know ZILCH about it. Most of the time while claiming the early Presidents were all illuminati-masonic-jewish-reptoids, it turns out they don’t know who the second, third, fourth or fifth President was, or what their policies were.

May 12

The Culture of the Presidency Matters More than All Obama’s Promises

My new piece, quite short, at THE RAW STORY / CULTURE CLUTCH dept. Read it at:

May 12

Our Cats are Concerned

Our cats are concerned about our lack of understanding of basic anatomy. Of course house cats that go outdoors will often leave dead animals, a kind of offering to its den-mates, on the doorstep, but these cats like to leave viscera, which appear to be neatly removed from the prey’s Body. A single tiny liver, neatly snipped out. A stomach, just a stomach. A length of intestine. A heart. All closely resembling human viscera but like doll-house miniatures. It’s like having Jack the Ripper as a pet. I expect a note attached to the viscera soon, “From hell”…

May 12

NON-FICTION ESSAYS, mostly short, by YOURS TRULY – linked here…

FOR EXAMPLE, these pieces:

The Next Fifty Years: Why I’m Optimistic Because Everything Will Be Terrible…

The Shadows of Ideas: A Distant Glimpse of Gurdjieff

Ecstasy and “Being Congruent”

Curmudgeon or Culture Critic?

My Exercise in Constructive Megalomania

Douglas Adams and the Wisdom of Madness

Those and more at: